There are a plethora of articles singing the praises of Emotional Intelligence and its importance in terms of leadership, and yes, it is important. Leadership is about having empathy and being able to connect to people; it’s about building relationships and embracing diversity to build cooperation.
Leadership is also about focus, concentration, and determination, leadership is also about having the stamina to stay the distance and leadership is also about values and purpose.
The origins of the word leadership lie in a “noun” and a “suffix”. The noun has Germanic origins in the word “ledere” for someone who “shows other people the path to take and guides them safely along the journey” and the suffix comes from the old English word “sciepe” meaning “the state or condition of whatever noun it modifies”. Leadership can, therefore, be translated into “the state of being a guide”, i.e. someone incarnating leadership is behaving as a guide would behave.
I don’t know about you, but if I was looking for a guide in the middle ages to get me across dragon infested mountains, I may well have looked for someone with empathy who could take into account my fears; but, I would probably also have tried to find someone who looked fit enough to face up to the dragons, someone who knew about organizing journey’s and, someone that I could trust was not just doing it for the money!
Real leadership; not the “shouting people down leadership”, not the “criticizing people leadership”, not the “mocking peoples origins leadership”, not the “self-glorifying leadership”, is about integrating head, heart, body, and soul – our Mental, Emotional, Physical and Spiritual dimensions or intelligences.
Our physical dimension is about being energized to maintain engagement and involvement over a period of time. People with a well-developed physical dimension tend to consciously look after their wellbeing, setting aside time for exercise and paying attention to what they eat and drink.
Our emotional dimension is about being positive, connecting with others and building lasting relationships. People with a well-developed emotional dimension can usually work easily with diverse people and build constructive relationships with people both similar and different to themselves.
Our mental dimension is about being comfortable with complexity & ambiguity and our ability to stay on track and see things through to the end. People with a well-developed mental dimension tend to have a “system thinking” approach to problems analyzing situations from a variety of angles.
Our spiritual dimension is about being aligned with our values and purpose and acting accordingly. People with a well-developed spiritual dimension know what is important to them and make it clear to others when their values are being transgressed. They are often seen as “on a mission” and have a clear vision of where they want to go.
In order to fully incarnate our leadership, we need to mobilize, maintain and integrate the four dimensions; we need to be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with something beyond self-interest.
Some hints for keeping each dimension in good shape:
- Eat five or six low-calorie, highly nutritious meals each day
- Drink between one-and-a-half and two liters of water per day
- Get the amount of sleep you need – in a cool, well-aired room
- Take a break every 90 minutes during the day and go for a short walk
- Don’t sit cross-legged, hunched over the computer – this can reduce blood circulation and ease of breathing
- Take regular deep breaths to refresh the oxygen at the bottom of your lungs – this is where the most effective oxygen exchange takes place
- Take the “long route” to the meeting room, going outside on the way if possible
- Exercise regularly; you don’t need to run a marathon – just a little & often
- If you take the bus or train to work, try getting off one stop earlier and finishing on foot
- Avoid starting the day listening to the radio or TV and the never-ending liturgy of deaths & disasters
- Stop the negative thinking; focus on the positive, envision yourself with pep, focus on which hopes & dreams you want to realize today and the virtuous circles and liberating beliefs that will help you get there
- Acknowledge your & other’s emotions and manage the associated behaviors positively
- Identify all the positive pleasures you take during the day through your five senses and “consciously” recharge your batteries with them
- Set boundaries and avoid those people who you know are going to drain your energy with their incessant winging & whining
- Take time to be with those who inspire and encourage you
- Avoid trying to maintain harmony in all circumstance by bottling up your emotions and taking them home with you
- Avoid multitasking; you cannot be 100% focused on more than one thing at a time. Changing subjects is not a problem but don’t flit from subject to subject
- Identify each day your two priority “must do” items, focus on them and make sure they are completed each day
- Break major subjects down into smaller SMART “chunks”
- Give yourself “no distractions” periods and lock yourself away somewhere to focus on what is a priority for you
- Repeat or write down a “focus mantra”; when you know exactly what your purpose and goal are, you can create a focus mantra that you repeat to yourself whenever you get distracted
- Take breaks and focus on non-essential items; go for a walk and take deep breaths – get the blood circulating to irrigate your brain
- Do things consciously during the day that give you a real sense of meaning and satisfaction
- Keep in touch with your deep values and focus on them in difficult situations
- Identify: what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs – find you Ikigai
- Develop the courage to live by your convictions
- Let go of your ego, without letting go of yourself
- Spend time with others who share your passions
- Don’t waste your energy on unimportant, meaningless tasks and activities
Real leadership is not about mocking, criticizing and self-glorifying; real leadership is not about focusing on differences & building barriers between people; real leadership is not about taking credit for successes & blaming others for failures.
Real leadership is about “raising your words not your voice”; real leadership is about “recognising that prejudice always obscures truth” and real leadership is about “building bridges between diverse opinions”
Opt for real leadership and make a real difference.